Oppose Opportunity Schools Provision
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE PENNSYLVANIA STATE CONFERENCE
Contact: Joan Duvall-Flynn
December 13, 2015
The NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference of Branches calls on legislators to oppose the “opportunity schools provision” of the omnibus school funding bill passed by the Pennsylvania Senate on Dec. 7, 2015. We oppose this proposal on behalf of the children who will be negatively impacted by this provision for the following seven (7) reasons as supported by current research:
- The provision is uninformed by current, substantiated medical knowledge related to the causes for low school performance.
- The provision is uninformed by current models of school reform that have been proven successful by empirical research through longitudinal study.
- The provision is uninformed by current research on the relationship between adequate funding and student outcomes.
- The provision has no recommendation/process for professional development for educators.
- The provision requires, in exchange for needed funding for children, the implementation of charter school expansion as a possible solution to their needs when, after 18 years of this approach, it has been clearly demonstrated that this is not the best approach to meet the needs of children who show low school performance. 
- The provision, in effect, expands “free market” experimentation on children who can never regain lost instructional opportunities when, as a result of thoroughly vetted research, we have access to knowledge as to how to effectively mitigate student needs that impede school performance.
- In total, the opportunity schools provision is asynchronous to the prevailing research, science and current knowledge,
For over five years, the Education Committee of the NAACP Pennsylvania has researched the impact of adverse childhood experiences on school performance. The testimony and resources shared with the Basic Education Funding Commission that clearly demonstrates how emotional and psychological trauma impedes school performance resulting in low assessment results and social disruptions – has been ignored in the “opportunity schools” provision. It is time this information be applied to state remedies.
The “Trauma Informed Education Studies” program, a series of courses developed by the education faculty of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania at the request of NAACP PA has faced obstacle after obstacle making its way to the market place even though educators are waiting in line for access to these courses. Designed to build pedagogical competence in educators who work with children who face adversity, these courses will build the skills and knowledge educators specifically need to help basic education students perform well both academically and socially. It is time these courses were made available.
Programs such as the Comer School Development Model have for years “made schools work”. This approach in particular has been demonstrated through research and the testimony of practitioners (1,000 districts in 26 states) to close the achievement gap and severely reduce behavior problems. There are school development programs that are known to work. They build community, build character, and build intellectual development. It is time to do what we know works.
Finding (2014) by the American Institutes for Research makes clear the relationship between school funding and student outcomes. In the Executive Summary of their …Evaluation of Pennsylvania’s School Financing System, (www.air.org) they report,
A sizeable body of rigorous empirical literature validates that state school finance reforms can have substantive, positive effects on student outcomes, including reductions in outcome disparities or increases in overall outcome levels.
… Several other recent studies have reported positive effects of infusion of funding into high-need and low-spending districts, on student outcomes ranging from test score gains to graduation rates.
While this information was shared with the Basic Education Funding Commission, it has not been morally applied to this provision. Knowing the funding is essential, it has been used as a bartering tool to force acceptance of an ineffective policy.
There is no longer any mystery as to why many school children are not doing well. We have the research, we have the science, we have the solutions. We know what to do with children and how to help them. It is time to stop experimenting on their lives. Why are policy makers not endorsing approaches proven to work?
It is time to take political manipulation and deal making out of the education policy process and replace this harmful practice with the science that shows us what the problem is and programs that show us how to solve it – forever.
Joan Duvall-Flynn, ED. D.
President, NAACP PA State Conference of Branches
Education Committee, NAACP PA State Conference
 Adverse Childhood Experiences, http://www.acestudy.org/ http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html;